Celtics fall to Pacers in In-Season Tournament quarterfinals, 122-112
On Monday night the Boston Celtics visited the Indiana Pacers, for the first ever In-Season Tournament quarterfinal game, a single elimination game on a Monday night in December with some of the leagues youngest stars battling it out. Maybe the NBA does know what it’s doing with the In-Season Tournament, the Celtics headed into this one at 15-4 while the Pacers are 10-8 but those records didn’t mean anything Monday night as it was win or go home.
Right away this game felt different than a regular season early December game with both teams coming out firing and the Indiana crowd being locked in. There were reports before the game that Indiana’s young superstar Tyrese Haliburton might not play but shortly before tip he was cleared along with one of his running mates Obi Toppin who’s starting to find his role in Indiana. Indiana would get out to a quick lead in this one going up 17-12 after Myles Turner and Bruce Brown racked up 8 quick points each forcing the Celtics defense to defend the 3-point line better.
The Celtics would battle back led by Derrick White impacting the game at both ends, no side would really separate themselves as the first was a back and forth battle that ended with the Celtics leading 24-22. Boston was clearly missing Kristaps Porzingis early in this one as their offense seemed stagnant but they were able to make up for it with good defense.
The second quarter would start very similar to the first with the teams trading shots and no side being able to really separate themselves. Indiana’s 3-point shooting would continue to be a problem for Boston though as they were 6/13 with 8 minutes left in the second to give them a 33-30 lead. Jaylen Brown was the Celtics best player offensively in the first half leading all scorers with 12 points on 6/8 shooting through the games first twenty minutes.
What many expected to be a high scoring fast paced game was anything but in the first half as neither team cracked the 50 point marker before the 2 minute mark of the half. Boston would come out of the two minute timeout flying going on a 12-0 run capped off by a deep 3-pointer from Jayson Tatum that would give Boston it’s largest lead of the night 55-46. Indiana would hit a pair of free throws to stop the run and end the half trailing 55-48.
The second half would start with both teams trading offensive shots and Haliburton starting to find his stroke from beyond the arc. Indiana would cut the Celtics lead to 4 with 9 minutes left in the third. Boston’s third quarters have been a problem this year and early in this one that seemed to be happening again as the Pacers started the half on a 14-8 run. It was the Celtics 3 point defense that continued to let them down as Indiana was 11/23 from beyond the arc at the 6:40 mark of the third quarter.
It was the Haliburton show in the third quarter though as he racked up 12 points before the 4 minute mark of the quarter and gave Indiana a 4 point lead 75-71 with 3:39 to go in the third. A 15-3 run would give Indiana it’s largest lead of the night 83-74 with 1:34 left in the third running all over the Celtics. Boston would get the final 4 points of the quartier to stop the bleeding but would still find themselves trailing by seven 85-78 heading into the fourth.
The fourth quarter would start with Indiana continuing it’s run finishing on a 17-3 run and giving themselves an 11 point lead. In the words of the great Sean Grande as the fourth quarter started “There will be two winners tonight one on it’s way to Vegas and the NBA.” For how the In-Season Tournament has gone so far. Early in the 4th quarter NBA fans were getting everything they hoped for. Haliburton and Tatum were trading shots as the Celtics cut into Indiana’s lead trailing 94-91 with 6:30 left in the game. This game was everything the NBA wanted when they envisioned this tournament a back and forth battle headed down to the wire.
Both teams would hit the 2:30 mark tied at 103 after a pair of Derrick White free throws, all of Adam Silver’s dreams were coming true. The Haliburton show would continue though as he drew a foul on a massive 3-pointer to give Indiana a 4 point lead with 56 seconds to go, a Buddy Hield 3 with 54 seconds to go would all but seal it for the Pacers. Indiana just flat outworked the Celtics in the final 90 seconds outscoring them 17-5 securing the 122-112 win for Indiana and sending them to Las Vegas for the first time ever.
- Sam Hauser continues to impress from beyond the arc
- The In-Season Tournament continues to be a success
- Tyrese Haliburton is a superstar.
- Rick Carlisle is still one of the better coaches in the league.